Rebecca Faria has sculpted some of the world’s most familiar bodies in preparation for their highest-profile moments: she was on hand for Sofia Richie’s wedding weekend, prepped Kim Kardashian for the Met Gala, and snatched Jennifer Aniston for her Allure cover. Her expertise? Lymphatic drainage massage, or the practice of coaxing excess water and toxins towards the lymph nodes in order to detox them from the body.
The lymph system is a key part of our immune system and helps maintain our body’s fluid levels and filter out bacteria. But our lifestyle and environment can slow the system’s function, which is where Faria comes in. Her technique reduces water retention, improves cellulite, and boosts circulation— helping clients achieve an extra-aliveness that seems to elude us normies.
Faria arrived in the States from Brazil in 2019, speaking no English, but she’s quickly gained A-list fans and a waitlist of thousands, many who’ve likely seen the drastic before-and-afters on her Instagram. One of her clients, TikTok star Addison Rae, told ELLE, “I noticed a difference after one session. Rebecca has this aura that’s so attractive. She’s always explaining exactly what she’s doing and why it’s helpful to my body. After a session, I feel like the best version of me.”
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Despite the demand for a session with her, Faria’s not gatekeeping her secrets. Below, she shares her formula for achieving similar results.
What sparked your interest in lymphatic massage, and how did you build your clientele?
Faria: In Brazil, lymphatic [massage] is a part of the culture. It’s almost like getting your nails done here.
After finishing my master’s degree, slowly, I was able to pull my technique together. When I came to the U.S., I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have any help, and I was trying to bring something that didn’t exist here. How would I convince people to get lymphatic [massage] done when they didn’t know what it was? That was my biggest struggle. I was hoping that I would have a few clients that would believe in my work. I would give people free treatments so they would feel the benefits, and then eventually they became clients and would refer friends. I’d do house calls by Uber. In the beginning, it’s just surviving.
Why do we need lymphatic drainage massage, and what are we draining? Water weight?
In a perfect world, our lymphatic system should be able to do all the work on its own. However, because we expose ourselves to an overwhelming lifestyle, our lymphatic system can get overloaded. You do lymphatic massage to help to speed up the [detox] process. Everyday, we are exposed to pollution, processed food, stress, lack of sleep, lack of water intake. Every time your body feels attacked, it’s going to protect itself by throwing water, trying to release that inflammation.
Water weight has nothing to do with fat. Water retention is a consequence of inflammation. It’s how your body reacts when something doesn’t go right. Example: if I punch you in your face, you’re gonna get swollen. If you get fillers, injections, you’ll get swollen. Surgeries, because you’re attacking your body. Pregnancy. If you eat processed food, you’re also going to be swollen. So [inflammation] is a natural response of the body.
How do we maintain a healthy lymphatic system that works well on its own?
The answer is simple habits. Don’t stress your body. Move your blood. Our lymphatic flow and our blood work together. They’re best friends. In order to move your lymphatic system, you need to move your blood. You can walk, you can go to the gym, you can do Pilates, you can jump, but you just need to move your blood. Elevate your legs. I have an infrared sauna in my spa that shakes, so the vibration also helps.
The second thing: I believe so much in tongue scraping. When we wake up, our tongue is full of bacteria. The first thing you need to do is clean your tongue. You cannot eat or drink anything before cleaning it, otherwise you’re going to push back all the bacteria. First thing in the morning, tongue scrape, brush your teeth. Then, drink water [to] protect your stomach. You can have breakfast and your body will be ready to receive those things because you will be clean and protected.
I also believe in a sleep routine. We produce two hormones [lectin and ghrelin] that help with our appetite and fat storage, and in order to produce those hormones we need to have enough time in deep sleep. If you don’t have a good sleep routine, you will miss those hormones. You’re going to be tired, stressed, and you’re going to crave sugar. And that’s what happens when we are going through stressful moments. We never crave salads… we crave hamburgers, we crave pizza, because those hormones are not balanced. A good sleep routine helps with the lymphatic system because it helps with whatever you’re craving.
Drink lots of water. I like to drink between half a gallon and one gallon per day. If we don’t control how much water we’re drinking, we’re probably not drinking enough, because we just forget about it.
There’s something else: avoid toxic relationships. [They] will raise your cortisol levels, which will mess up your other hormones.
Is it necessary to remove caffeine and alcohol if we want an optimal lymphatic system?
I like to live my life easy. And I think if we cut everything, we’ll raise our cortisol levels. If you like coffee, have a coffee in the morning. And if you like to drink, you can have some drinks on the weekend with your friends. We need to find a balance. Because if you restrict yourself too much, you’re going to avoid some problems, but you’re going to create other problems. And that’s something I see a lot here in America. I have clients who are perfectly healthy — they eat the most organic food and they exercise all day long, but their levels of anxiety are so high they end up messing up their lymphatic system. It’s impossible to be perfect. Emotions can affect you as badly as food. It’s not sustainable [to limit yourself] in the long term.
I love your holistic approach to all of this. OK, you’ve worked on some of the most famous people in Hollywood, like Jennifer Aniston, Diddy, and Kim Kardashian. How often do you work with them?
All my clients come regularly, once or twice a month. Some do [lymphatic massage] every week. It’s just part of their routine, almost like working out. You don’t work out for one event. If you do it once, you’ll look skinnier, because you have less water retention. But if you don’t keep going, and if you don’t combine [massage] with a healthy lifestyle, you won’t be able to improve your lymphatic system, which is the goal. You want your lymphatic system to work well on its own.
When it comes to travel, how can we support our lymphatic system? I always feel like when I get off a plane, I look so ragged.
When you travel, because of the pressure of the flight, your blood flow slows down. Your blood flow is slower, which means your lymphatic flow is slower. Your digestion is slower. When you get off a plane, you’re dealing with stress from the airport, you are jet-lagged, and the whole combination will stress your lymphatic system. The best way to deal with this is exercising before and after [a flight]. As soon as you arrive, go for a ten minute walk, put your legs up, drink some water, and you’re brand new. But what do we usually do? We arrive, we’re tired, we go out for dinner, we eat whatever we want. We’re jet-lagged, we don’t sleep well, so it just gets worse.
Great advice. By the way, congratulations on your new baby. Is lymphatic massage safe to do while pregnant?
The pregnancy lymphatic massage is a different technique. When we’re pregnant, we produce up to fifty-percent more fluid, so it’s normal to feel swollen. But if you get lymphatic [massage] every week, you are helping your lymphatic system to not get so affected by the pregnancy.
The best thing to do is prepare your body before getting pregnant. Put your lymphatic system in a good place before getting pregnant and during the pregnancy. But usually people wait until they’re seven or eight months, and they’re super swollen. The best thing to do is prevent. Get your lymphatic system in a good place before you have all the water retention.
I’ve gotten so many tips from the how-to’s on your Instagram, but I love how everything you’ve shared is so holistic and brings our lifestyles into consideration.
Your daily habits are way more important than any massage you do. The massage itself is just the cherry on top of the cake.